The crisis in half of the Red Bull’s garage is persisting in intensity and continuity. The climax moment arrived in today’s Austrian Grand Prix, when Max Verstappen went on an incredible win after an awful start while Pierre Gasly has been lapped right on the topic moment of the battle between the Dutch and Leclerc.
The weekend, actually, started with inverted roles: Verstappen clashing the barrier and giving extra workload to his mechanics in the Friday evening; Gasly topped the FP1 chart with a 3rd position despite the windy conditions.
Max was cautious with predictions and regrets for the team extra hours:
My feeling in the car was good and we looked quite competitive. Of course, you always want to do better but my laps were looking quite good before the crash. I had traffic on my fastest lap so we would be a lot closer than my lap time shows. The car was working well, we still need to find a bit of a compromise between the corners and the straightline speed but we will look at that tonight. It was very gusty and the wind wasn’t consistent which caught me out in the middle of the last corner. I lost the rear and hit the barrier pretty hard. Luckily, everything is fixable and it’s Friday so we’re not running all the race material yet. It’s just a shame for the Team as they have a lot on tonight now
On the other hand, Pierre was confident with the job done so far:
I felt good with the car and I was able to push, so today was positive. I felt a lot more comfortable than in France and I think we have a good direction. There was quite a lot happening in FP2 but we still managed to complete all the tests we wanted to. The conditions are really hot and it’s quite windy which makes things tricky, and I think the rising temperatures are the main thing we need to keep on top of looking ahead to Sunday
Saturday’s qualifying repeated the mixed feelings: Verstappen after Hamilton penalty converted the 3rd slot to a front row position aside Leclerc. Gasly could put behind him only Vettel parked at the boxes with mechanical problems; Christian Horner showed enough smile for the situation:
That was a great lap by Max at the end of Q3. He was quickest in Q1 and had been quick throughout qualifying. We elected to use the medium tyre for the start of qualifying and then took the soft in Q3 resulting in third on the grid, which is a great place to be starting our home race from. Pierre comfortably made it through to Q3 but then made a mistake on what turned out to be the most important lap. He lost around three or four tenths in Turn One and then unfortunately, with it being such a short lap here, he was unable to recover the time. He’ll be starting in P9 so we’re looking to make progress from there
Coming to the race, the big drama lasted all the race long for Verstappen: infamous start (activation of anti-stall system), big rush for recovering the missed places and the ultimate clash at turn 3 with the Ferrari of the Monegasque Leclerc, with annexed post-race investigation. The lion is still roaring.
The French embarrassed the established of the Red Bull: he found extremely difficult on passing Norris and Raikkonen, phagocytised from Mad Max. Even with the DRS activation he struggled to the inside and outside overtaking at turn 4. Exam failed.